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Enter the age of the Media Network!

Long time Brightcove customer, The Guardian, re-launched their homepage today - looks pretty slick.   In an interview given to Business Insider, Janine Gibson reasons it's "all about using it as a better window for the vast variety of what we're producing around our network."

The key here is the use of the word network - it's not unusal to hear online publishers use this word by any means.   They all know its meaning and want to be part of the networks, be it social, content, realtime etc and have worked hard to indeed be active members.   But now publishers want to be the network.  A Media Network.  A universe in itself on the web. 

Pretty profound shift to go from being an active member network to being the network.

This isn't new, by any means, just look at News Corp, but it is a trend that is growing pace across the land  - especially in the publisher world.   Critics are lobbying traditional printing houses to ditch offline altogether - cheap shots from people outside looking in! - but the paradigm is shifting and analogue only strategies will be dead soon enough.   Embracing the digital connected world is a must.   And trying to be the network certainly is a good way forward!

But it's a long way between wanting to be the network and actually being the network.   Not only do you have to build it, but to get them to come you'll have to grab 'em by the scruff of their necks, drag 'em in and then keep them coming back!

Some are going to erect pay walls and gardens (The Times, another BC customer, is launching this imminently) - that can certainly help build loyalty and keep 'em coming back again and again.

Others build content networks (OMS and Sonic Networks, BC clients leading the way here) that tie economies of scales into a co-operative model to demand much higher CPMs and lower content acquisition rights.

But what other options are out there?   Well what makes other network types succeed?  Why is Facebook and Twitter so popular?   The personalised real-time newsfeed maybe?  

Why not build a site that builds on this successful concept?  I log into ACME News and there's my real-time content stream personalised to me.   Video, stories, news that I care about are all there for me to browse and snack on.   Then dive deeper into contextual articles from the nodes in the stream.  (To be fair home pages do this window shopping effect pretty well, but it's about the stream now, not individual displays - make me fee like I've missed something so next time I'll come 15 minutes early!)

And to keep me coming back?  Let me link into other aspect of my connected life - keeping in touch with friends, groups and events, whilst letting me broadcast myself.   I can start hanging out there all day if I can get my email there as well! :) 

This all a wonderful vision and quite possible, these APIs are all available, but it can be quite a paradigm shift.   They all laughed when the put video on the web, now look at Brightcove's customer list.   Are they laughing at people wanting to be a network?  I don't think so....

-- Cameron Church